End Of Season Grades: Center Fielders
Mike B. | On 07, Oct 2011
By Mike Brandyberry
September 29 began a two week, end of season grade and breakdown by each position. Certainly after the wild ride the 2011 Cleveland Indians took fans on, grades, projections and areas of improvement are all sought for 2012, with the goal being a playoff team next season. Today, we examine the center fielders. Be sure to check out our previous features.
.224 AVG, 10 HR, 32 RBI
It seems like an eternity ago when Grady Sizemore was dubbed, “the player of a generation,” by Mark Shapiro, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and part of an argument of who was the better centerfielder, he or Curtis Granderson.
Now, all that remains is an injury plagued, broken down shadow of that player. Gone is the boyish charm and charisma most days and now it is replaced with grimacing and injury updates. Despite two and a half years of injuries, it would be easy to claim that 2011 was Sizemore’s worst season as a big leaguer.
Sizemore returned to the Indians from the disabled list and micro fracture surgery on his left knee in mid April, however, his right knee almost immediately became problematic and resulted with him making two more trips to the disabled list. Sizemore was also treated for a sports hernia when he landed on the DL the third time this season.
It’s easy to use the injuries as an excuse for Sizemore’s struggles, but the facts remain that his batting average has dropped each of the last three seasons while his strikeout rate has risen. Gone are the days of his speed and power. Sizemore did not steal a base this season.
Monday, Sizemore had right knee surgery and is out for 6-8 weeks, but should be ready for Spring Training. One of the five biggest questions for the Indians in the offseason is should they pick up Sizemore’s $9 million option for 2012. He no longer is the player of a generation, and probably not a $9 million player, but letting Sizemore leave Cleveland only to get healthy and thrive is a thought to make fans and the organization think long and hard before making a decision on his contract.
If the Indians bring Sizemore back to the 2012 team, for his own health and benefit, the team needs to acknowledge that much of his speed is gone and give up the ideas of him as a top of the order hitter. They should also consider moving him to left field to cut down on the wear and tear on his knees and help aid his weak arm.
.243 AVG, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB
His major league debut was a drag bunt to drive in the go ahead run during the Indians wild 30-15 start, but it might have been the highlight of his season.
After dropping a fly ball in centerfield near the end of a close game in Minnesota in August, Manny Acta gave Carrera a vote of confidence, calling him, “the most fundamentally sound outfielder in the organization.” Every outfielder in the organization should have taken offense to that statement.
Carrera is probably not a player you want in your every day lineup in the big leagues, but to be a good bench player at the big league level, or someone to fill in or add a spark, you have to be fundamentally sound. However, Carrera seemed to struggle nightly with fundamentals in the last two months of the season.
Twice, Carrera let the ball get by him in the outfield on balls hit right to him. He struggled to get down sacrifice bunts and made several base running mistakes. Considering he is a slasher of a hitter, and will never have any power, making the right decisions and being fundamentally sound is imperative to his game.
Carrera will not be slated to be a starter in the Opening Day lineup, but if he hopes to beat Trevor Crowe out for the fourth or fifth outfield spot he will have to improve his fundamentals.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images